Make safety a priority, SMU

Snow blankets Bishop Boulevard on Thursday, Feb. 6. Several students and faculty members complained of losing traction on the roads, resulting in car accidents.Photo credit: Ellen Smith

Last Thursday brought an unexpected and chilly blanket that fell over campus, and most of the Dallas/Fort-Worth area. Snow started falling around 7 a.m. on SMU campus, and by 9 a.m. the roads were covered. Despite the weather conditions, SMU did not cancel classes.

These conditions were nothing compared to the storms hitting the northeast. But they were still enough to cause credible and significant danger to students when not properly prepared for or addressed in a timely manner.

Three people on our staff alone were involved in car accidents, one of which ended in a totaled car while driving down the Boulevard. People were slipping on ice all over campus. According to those we’ve spoken to, there was still no salt or other weather aids on the roads and sidewalks by 11 a.m. — three hours after classes began. This was far too late in our opinion, and in the opinion of many in slipping cars and facing falls on the sidewalk.

Despite the fact that SMU did not close Thursday, many professors cancelled classes and even more students did not attend them.

While some may have done so out of laziness or convenience, many simply could not make it to campus—several Dallas roads were closed or near undriveable, and many parts of the campus had no steady walking or driving ground. One professor offered extra credit to his students for attending class. What is the point of holding classes if most of them will not — or cannot — be attended?

SMU acted irresponsibly Thursday. Classes should have been canceled, but they weren’t. And if classes weren’t to be cancelled, salt and gravel should have been out on the roads and sidewalks immediately. Considering that the snow started piling up by 8 a.m., this was too late. Students and professors were slipping and sliding on roads and sidewalks for over three hours. If SMU insists on having classes in rain, sleet or snow, it needs to be prepared for icy weather conditions. Gravel and salt should have been out on the roads and poured over campus very early Thursday morning to avoid accidents.

This is not the first snow and ice fall of the season, and certainly not of the decade. SMU has experienced severe weather conditions, and there is no reasonable excuse that our campus should not be readily prepared to make our roads and sidewalks safe, regardless of the weather forecast the night before. If the sky is doing something different than predicted, then by all means, please follow what the physical weather conditions require.

Winter is far from over. We will probably have more ice and snow days this semester and this issue will resurface, perhaps as soon as this week. There is no excuse for SMU not to be prepared for these conditions. So long as they aren’t, students and professors should not be forced to risk injuries, car accidents and general well-being to get to class. Be safe, SMU.

Opinions expressed in each unsigned editorial represent a consensus decision of the editorial board. All other columns reflect the views of individual authors and not necessarily those of the editorial staff.

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